No Stopping McDonald's

As has long been the case, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) seems shockingly impervious to the rough economic climate at hand. Yesterday, it released its January same-store sales data, which, frankly, kind of rocked.

McDonald's January global comps rose a spectacular 7.1%. Even in the tough U.S. market, comps grew a robust 5.4%. In Europe, comps grew 7.1%, and in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa markets, they surged 10.2%.

January was dramatically dismal for many consumer-facing companies, so it probably wouldn't have shocked anybody to see McDonald's show at least a little bit of weakness, but not a chance. Consumers are making it quite clear that they are looking for bargains, and that has helped Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) -- like McDonald's -- become one of the rare stock performers in the last difficult year or so.  

And of course, Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) , a company that can be seen as a kinda/sorta rival since McDonald's has delved into gourmet coffee offerings, continues to struggle in the poor economy, so it's not surprising that it's trying to delve into the value-menu realm that McDonald's knows so well. Maybe Starbucks is feeling particularly inspired by the fact that McDonald's has simply been rockin' out for such a long period of time now.

In a world where so many beaten-down consumer-facing companies are trading at single-digit price-to-earnings ratios, McDonald's may look a bit pricey, trading at 16 times earnings, but it's not too out of whack from rivals Burger King (NYSE: BKC  ) or Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM  ) , both of which are trading at about 15 times earnings.

Of course, companies that are solid defensive plays in this day and age (and showing impressive growth, like McDonald's) are arguably worth premium prices, and McDonald's is also a dividend payer. Investors may want to wait for a little temporary weakness to drive through and get shares of McDonald's, but I continue to believe it's a great stock for long-term portfolios.   

Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Wal-Mart Stores and Starbucks are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2009, at 3:21 PM, AlyceFan wrote:

    If the increase in McDonalds sales is the result of folks forgoing their occasional jaunt to Ruby Tuesdays or Red Robin in favor of a less expensive alternative all is good. I enjoy a nice greasy breaded McDonalds treat as much as the next person! However, if this increase is the result of families substituting more healthy fare made at home that has become to expensive to purchase, and is becoming an important part of their diet, that to me is a depressing result of the current economy - and will have longer term negative health consequences.

    Good article as usual Alyce!

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